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Oakland Museum Preview

Last week I got a sneak preview of the Oakland Museum of California, a Kevin Roche-designed museum in Oakland that's set to reopen on Saturday, May 1st. Mark Cavagnero Associates has completed a light renovation of this wonderful bit of high Brutalism, adding more gallery space, a stronger sense of circulation and some canopies to shelter visitors from the elements as they move from space to space. Though the building itself is pretty remarkable, even more amazing is the rooftop garden designed by Dan Kiley. Covering 7.7 acres, this is maybe the nicest roof garden I've ever seen, a poem in modern landscape design. What's more, it's a city park accessible to all during museum hours. I'm embarassed to admit it was my first time over to the museum, but it was a wonderful trip and I'm excited to visit again. Have a look at this slideshow to see what I saw.

 

 

Though there was barrier up when I visited, the Oak St. entrance is now meant to be the main, street-addressing entrance to the Oakland Museum of California. You can see Mark Cavagnero's stainless steel canopy as a kind of welcoming shelter over the steps, which are hidden by the wall. Architect Kevin Roche, who worked in Eero Saarinen's office, kicked off his career with the Oakland Museum of California which opened in 1969. Saarinen was supposed to get the commission, but he died before he could get very far into the design process. The building initially eschewed the idea of a grand entrance, instead opting for a rather porous five entry points along the four city blocks it covers. The new design aims to restore something of the streetfront grandeur that museum officials felt it lacked.

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